February 16, 2021

In the winter months of 1994, a young guitarist called Jamie Thyer took time out from playing on demonstrations for Marshall amplification and Rotosound strings. He began writing and rehearsing with a rhythm section under the ironic name of The Worried Men. Their ability to entertain and not merely play has really fired up audiences, their live album Fear and Loathing at the Wünder Bar and their local gigs attracted an avalanche of press and an ever-growing mailing list.

Following this, The Worried Men embarked on a relentless succession of nationwide dates, averaging around four or five gigs per week, alongside some of the worlds leading rock and blues musicians, including Robin Trower, Chicken Shack, Wilko Johnson, Robert Cray, Jefferson Starship, Walter Trout, Johnny Winter, Peter Green, the list is almost endless!

Next, Jamie was invited to join forces with Mott The Hoople’s Verden Allen on an adventure which produced the album Love You and Leave You (Angel Air Records), taking in many gigs at top venues, BBC radio broadcasts and an opportunity to headline the main stage at Cambridge Rock Festival; each episode again earning Jamie much praise, much press and many plaudits.

Jamie and The Worried Men have recently been back in the studio, the result being their latest album Excelsior! now out on release.

******

WHAT THE PRESS HAVE SAID:

“Think of Thorogood, Gary Moore, Wilko Johnson.
These boys can show ’em all a clean pair of heels” – British Blues Connection
“Always go down well with blues lovers” – Suited and Booted
“Excellent R’n’B” – Broadsheep
“A great band… will entertain you until the cows come home” – What’s On SW
“Strong guitar-driven band with an excellent drummer” – Swindon Advertiser
“If you like ZZ Top or The Hamsters, this is for you!” – Blueprint
“Recommended”, ” impeccable live reputation” – Venue
“Brilliant” – AWOL Bikers’ Magazine
“Strong guitar-driven band” – Radio Times
“Jamie Thyer ….. firing on all six strings” – Record Collector

“How can a brain so small, move fingers so quickly?” – Jamie Thyer!

*******

And so to the music! Excelsior! sports ten cracking blues-rock tracks, showing a wide variety of influences and styles. Like others in the Blues-rock genre, (Danny Bryant; and Wille and the Bandits spring to mind), The Worried Men appeal to that broader church of rock fans because as a band they’re technically excellent and not afraid to widen their horizons, adapting and doing different things, hence the rave reviews for their live work – and that also translates onto this album.

Aces and Eights kicks us off, with an almost Wilko Johnson style of spikey guitar punctuating what you could call great pub-rock. There’s a hint of retro to this, which isn’t simply because its blues based. Some great bursts of slide as well and somehow surprisingly smooth harmonies from the trio! Blodwyn continues that timeless, pacey, pub-rock sound, again more than a hint of the Feelgoods. Lee Brilleaux would be proud!

Meadow Stone is an instrumental, a sumptuous mix of so many different guitar parts, including a layered mix of what could be Wishbone Ash “twinning” in their pomp! It’s quite simply a master at work, showing so many different shades, I love it! Split Diamond mines the same vein, rhythm parts plus two different lead parts. It does illustrate the difficulty rock trios can sometimes have – how to recreate this multi-layered approach when playing live. I’ve not seen Jamie live but I suspect he has an epic go at achieving that solidity of sound!

Manacle Alley brings us back to the “Wilko sound”, what I think is a straight four-bar blues base augmented by a slashing guitar vibe. Jamie’s compadres lay down a pulsating beat, allowing him to majestically carve through and around the rhythm. Dangerous Vision by contrast is a cool, laid-back, melodic instrumental ballad. It’s quite lovely, the clarity and sweetness of vibes that Jamie produces is pure quality – and a fascinating composition with a hint of prog-influence…my favourite track on the album.

The Cat That Walks by Themself is then something completely different – pure back-street blues, “smokishly” atmospheric low-key mix, you can almost hear the imaginary compere gush “ni-i-ice!” I think this is Jamie singing again, I’m not sure but whoever it is has one hell of a classic blues-based pair of lungs on them!

Nova returns to the melodic instrumental form. It’s fantastic the number of different guitar styles and moods Jamie wrings out in this one, all impeccably played, it brought to mind Mark Knoppfler’s soundtrack to the film Local Hero. Again the actual composition of layered guitar tracks is just luscious, almost disguising the sheer virtuosity of the lead solo…almost, it’s a wonderful six string tour-de-force with a finale to top the lot. Changed my mind, THIS is the best track of the lot, the phrase “master-class” comes to mind again, I think MK would seriously struggle to better this!

Mister Make Believe returns to the pub-rock sound, but imagine Wilko sparring with a sort of “Hank Marvin gets down and dirty” vibe! Pure timeless rock’n’roll!

Uno Mas closes the album, a surprisingly cool, laid-back melody again. It’s not just the multi-layered set of guitar skills this guy has, but his writing / compositional skill is a revelation. Mark Knoppfler is world -renowned for his instrumentals and soundtracks but I tell you, this track and others on this album are right up there with the best slices of instrumental excellence and melodic atmosphere you’ve ever heard.

I suspect part of the magic is their (and I do mean all three of the nutters!) sheer joy in performing – even from the all-too-brief video below, you get caught up in the fun!

*******

S’funny – given all the plaudits about the band’s live performances and stellar guitar work, I think I was expecting an album full of world-class blues-rock. What you get is world-class, but it’s so much than “just blues”, if I can use that expression. It’s a genuine work of art, some of the melodies, the layering of styles, moods and ambience within what can only be called a guitar master-class had me quite simply, stunned!

And, best of all, the three of them are clearly having a whale of a time, a couple of the tracks might sound like Dr Feelgood but every last one has that Feelgood Factor! ?